Lungren, Enemy Of Property Rights

Steven Greenhut: I was driving around some of the rural regions outside Sacramento yesterday and saw the signs for Dan Lungren for Congress. Lungren, the former state attorney general and a failed gubernatorial candidate against Gray Davis, is in a tight race with Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera. This should be a huge Republican year, but Lungren’s race is considered a toss-up by the well-respected Congressional Quarterly magazine. Bera seems like a garden-variety liberal who is hitting Lungren on his long incumbency and some other predictable issues (not “helping” the district with more big-spending programs).

But it will be hard for me to be upset if Lungren loses. Few California politicians have done more to erode private property rights than Lungren, who has dedicated a good bit of his career to making it easier for the government to take the private property of citizens, due process be damned. Back in 1995, Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois criticized his friend Lungren in his book, “Forfeiting Our Property Rights,” because Lungren authored the re-enactment of civil forfeiture laws that make it extremely easy for law enforcement to take property from people on the slightest pretext. He quotes Lungren bragging that forfeiture is the “lifeblood of law enforcement.” Lungren blamed drug dealers for convincing people that there is something wrong with these often-abused laws.

Few individual politicians have done as much damage to our property rights as Dan Lungren. But his big-government-supporting opponent doesn’t seem interested enough in liberty issues to use that one against Lungren.

OCT. 4

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